Points, Miles & Life

Travel adventures on this earthly pilgrimage

Category: Reviews (page 1 of 4)

Hyatt House Portland Review

Overall rating: 9/10

Location: Portland, Oregon

Last fall my wife and I met my in-laws for a few days in Portland. It was actually a surprise for my brother and father-in-law. Because of limited award availability from Arcata, I opted to arrive a day early (’cause who wants a 6:00 a.m. flight?). I picked the Hyatt House Portland for our one night.

I used 12,000 Hyatt points to cover the night. Cash price was $205, so we were getting 1.7 cents per point. This has since become my base valuation of Hyatt points. Others peg them at 1.4 or 1.5, but everything depends on location, season, day of the week, etc. The Hyatt House Portland often goes for as low as $130. Redeeming points wouldn’t be as lucrative at that price point.

One thing I noticed when booking was how few reviews the hotel had. This was because it opened only 3 months before we stayed.

Arriving at the Hyatt House Portland

I knew my in-laws were renting a car that could fit the 5 of us, so we used public transportation to reach the hotel. It is located just to the south of downtown, near the University.

Hyatt House Portland review - transit

Public transit to the hotel is easy. We had to make a single transfer from TriMet light rail (leaves from PDX airport) to a Portland Streetcar. There is a streetcar stop literally next to the hotel.

The other cool thing was that the hotel is kitty corner to the Marriott Residence Inn, at which we would be staying with my in-laws when they arrived. Super convenient.

Hyatt House Portland Review - from trolley stop

Hyatt House Portland from the trolley stop

Check in was easy. We didn’t receive an upgrade, but I didn’t really expect to as a lowly Hyatt Platinum. Anyhow, from what I knew of Hyatt House hotels in general, every room is an upgrade since they all have kitchens and are considered “suites”.

Hyatt House Portland studio kitchen suite

Our points got us a standard studio kitchen suite. You can also be booked into a den guest room. Luckily the suite was available for our dates.

Walking into the room, it was love at first sight. The suite had a full kitchen, sitting/living area, bed area, and large bathroom. Everything was new, clean, and modern.

Hyatt House Portland - Living Room

The kitchen was fully stocked. It contained a stove, cookware, flatware, dishes, and more. It even had a dishwasher. We felt spoiled. The stove was even the modern induction type, which is probably to make it easy to clean, more than anything.

Hyatt House Portland - Kitchen

The dining area was an island adjacent to the kitchenette.

Hyatt Hours Portland Review - Kitchen

The “bedroom” and living areas were cleverly designed. The TV was situated within an open section of the wall, at it would swivel, depending on whether you wanted to watch it from the couch or from the bed. I thought this was brilliant.

Hyatt House Portland - Bedroom

The bathroom was spacious and clean, and included a shower only, which I generally prefer. Everything was super new and clean, and it was plenty spacious.

Hyatt House Portland Review - Bathroom

The view was okay. The location of the Hyatt House doesn’t really make for good views in any direction. If you pressed your face against the glass, you could get a view of some of the taller buildings in downtown Portland.

Overall, we loved the room. Everything was new and modern, and the layout was wonderful.

Lobby and other facilities

The common area was clean and nice, if a bit clinical. The hotel could have done a better job breaking up the space. There was plenty of seating, but it was so orderly it began to remind me of a cafeteria. There weren’t any great places to sit and have a more private or quieter conversation.

Maybe this just stood out since I immediately contrasted the Hyatt House Portland with the Marriott Residence Inn we stayed at the following nights. The Residence Inn broke up their common space into smaller sections, allowing a bit more privacy and an overall better feel.

I also used the gym in the morning. There were enough machines and free weights to accommodate what most people would want in a work out. There is also a pool, but we didn’t use it.

Breakfast

I have to say, the Hyatt House Portland breakfast was one of the best free breakfasts I have had at a hotel. And its always free.

Hyatt House Portland Review - Breakfast

The best part was the made-to-order omelets. You pick a couple filling options, and a cook makes you an omelet in just minutes. There are also the typical continental breakfast options of bagels, muffins, yogurt, fruit, juice, and coffee. All of that was overshadowed by the omelet.

Location and getting around

While the Hyatt House Portland is not right in the middle of downtown, it is plenty close. And the trolley stop makes most places very accessible. You can be at the main food pod between Washington and Alder in 20 minutes or less.

Essentially, anything within the trolley or TriMet system is easily accessible. I won’t deny that a car made visiting several places much easier, including our trip to Multnomah Falls and attending a glass blowing class.

The riverfront is within easy walking distance, as is the aerial tram to the OHSU campus.

Issues with the final bill

Check out at the Hyatt House Portland was quick and easy. The desk staff put our “bill” in an envelope and sent us on our way. I don’t typically receive an final bill for an award stay, but some hotels seem to give it out anyway.

By the time I read it, we were on the streetcar, and it immediately puzzled me. The bill showed a room rate of $57 + tax. This made no sense. I knew there had to be a mistake.

We returned later and asked the manager what the issue was. He apologized and told me that I wasn’t supposed to receive that bill. It was a record of what they bill Hyatt corporate for our stay. It was no skin off my teeth since we had to return anyway (to the Residence Inn) and it actually gave me an interesting insight into how hotels are reimbursed for award stays.

Conclusion

Overall, we had a fantastic stay at the Hyatt House Portland. It still ranks as my favorite hotel brand. My wife was in heaven. Because she has some tummy problems that require a restricted diet, being able to easily and comfortably cook on vacation is extremely important to us. The Hyatt House gave us everything we needed.

Hyatt House Portland Review - Downtown View

If we ever return to Portland, I will certainly be looking at this hotel again.

Hilton Florence Metropole: A Review

Location: Florence, Italy

Overall Rating: 9/10

I had some reservations when booking the Hilton Florence Metropole, mainly regarding the location. Unlike the SPG hotel options, the Hilton was a pretty good distance from the city center. I would have much rather booked the Westin Excelsior or St. Regis Florence, but the prices (both in cash and in points) were simply astronomical.

The Hilton Garden Inn was significantly closer, but still not fantastic, and the overall benefits at the Hilton Florence Metropole would be better with the Diamond status I had been matched to for the year. I finally settled on it as our best option, trusting that the views and amenities would make up for the poorer location. Plus, it would be free, except for the annoying city taxes.

We booked five nights to take advantage of the 5th night free benefit offered on Hilton award stays. The total came to 120,000 HHonors points. The same booking would have cost ~$600, so we were getting just 0.5 cents per point. Half a cent is the baseline at which I value a Hilton point, so I was fine with the redemption, but not ecstatic (you can often buy HHonors points for 0.5 cent).

Hilton Florence Metropole Exterior

Hilton Florence Metropole exterior

Kels and I arrived in Florence via bus and then train from San Marino. We left beautiful Monte Titano around 10:00 in the morning, and arrived at the Hilton Florence Metropole at about 4:30 in the afternoon. It was a decently long day of traveling, especially considering the two locations are less than 100 miles apart as the crow flies.

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Waterfall (waterwall?) in the lobby

The lobby of the Hilton Florence Metropole is very large and of modern style. There was ample seating past the front desk and an indoor waterfall as you enter.

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Lobby seating

Check in was quick and painless. I had previously confirmed our room via the Hilton app, and no changes were made at check in. By the number (1001), I had suspected that we had been upgraded to a corner room, and this was indeed the case. The Hilton Diamond status match was finally paying off!

My wife and I headed up the elevator to the 10th floor. Luckily, we did not get the slightly awkward chaperone to our room as we had in both Cannes and Milan.

Hilton Florence Metropole Room View

Bed, with a view!

I was in love the instant I opened the door to the room. We were not only upgraded to a corner room, but to one with views of the Duomo and city center in the distance, surrounded by the hills of Tuscany! It was spectacular.

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Desk behind bed

After spending an undue amount of time admiring our view of Florence, I did notice the rest of the room. Everything was very nice, and of very modern style. The desk was glass, and it was uniquely placed directly behind the bed.

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Desk

Next to the door was a little nook with the water kettle and glassware.

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Nook by the door

Like the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Mediterranee, the in room coffee consisted of instant Nescafe. Considering all the good coffee available, the hotels on this trip were failing the in-room coffee thing (except the Park Hyatt Milan).

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Kettle, mugs, and in-room coffee

The bathroom was similarly very nice. It had both a shower and tub, and an interesting clear glass sink.

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Shower and sink

Our only minor complaint was the shower. It was overly narrow. Due to the placement of the handle and shower head, both my wife and I tended to accidentally turn the water either down or off while showering. It wasn’t too much of an issue for us, but I can imagine it would be far more of a hassle for anyone substantially larger.

Overall, we were very pleased with the room. Housekeeping kept it wonderfully clean during our stay, even when we made a mess cooking.

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Lounge

Since both my wife and I had been matched to Hilton Diamond status via a promo at the beginning of 2016, we were granted executive lounge access during our stay, even though we weren’t on any of the 3 executive floors. I had previously been to a couple airport lounges, but this was my first time using a hotel lounge.

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Snacks and light dinner options in the lounge

The lounge at the Hilton Florence Metropole is on the top (15th) floor. It offers complimentary drinks, light bites at night, and a light breakfast in the morning. We ended up eating in the restaurant every morning, so I never actually saw what breakfast was like.

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Outdoor seating area of the executive lounge

There were two outdoor seating areas, as well as the indoor tables and couches. The views from the 15th floor were spectacular; you had access to at least 270 degrees around the building. My favorite view was toward the Florence city center, the same direction that we had from our room.

Hilton Florence Metropole View from Lounge

Panorama of Florence, city center in the distance at center left

I worked from the lounge most of the evenings we were in Florence. It was a quiet space, there were ample power outlets, and I could snack as I wanted. Although many guests came and went, the lounge never really filled up any of the nights we were there.

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Pool, and adjacent fitness facilities

On one of the evenings, my wife and I had a chance to enjoy the pool. It is quite small, but it had a very cool waterfall! And we had it to ourselves the entire time we were swimming.

 

Hilton Florence Metropole Pool Waterfall

Pool waterfall

Strangely, there were a few sunbeds. The pool is below ground level and there are no windows, so I wondered why anyone would want to come lay here for a while. Maybe you can tan from indigo mood lighting?

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Lounge chairs near the pool

The towels laid out and free bottled water were a plus, though.

Adjacent to the pool was the fitness center, which….I never used (vacation is about eating and seeing the sights, okay).

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Buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant

Speaking of eating, we enjoyed breakfast in the restaurant each morning, complimentary of course as another Diamond perk. The spread included a wide variety of both European and more American breakfast choices. It was honestly the best hotel breakfast I have had.

Hilton Florence Metropole Restaurant Seating

Restaurant seating

As I mentioned at the start, the Hilton Florence Metropole is a pretty good distance from the center of Florence. The hotel does run a complimentary shuttle, but the schedule isn’t ideal. The pickup times are 60-90 minutes apart at either end, so you really have to settle on a plan ahead of time. Space is also issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. The morning runs into Florence were usually full. If the shuttle runs out of space, you are out of luck. Fortunately, we always managed to find a seat.

The shuttle drops you about a 5 minute walk from the Santa Maria Novella train station, at the Piazzale Montelungo. The Mercato Centrale is an 8-10 minute walk, the Duomo about 10-12, and the Palazzo Vecchio roughly 20. We did a ridiculous amount of walking over our three days seeing the city and every night returned to the hotel exhausted.

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The public bus stop just down the street from the Hilton. Route 78 goes to the tram.

If the shuttle isn’t cutting it, you can navigate the public transit system. I honestly preferred this option, and we took it more than half the time. The schedule is more regular, and there is a bus stop a few hundred feet from the hotel. You have to make one transfer between the #78 bus and the T1 tram, but it is fairly straightforward. You can tell which stop it is since the bus basically empties out.

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The Duomo

Florence has so much to see and do. We spent three long days seeing the art, the architecture, and enjoying the beauty of this Renaissance city.

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The upper floor of the Mercato Centrale Firenze

Our highlights were the Duomo, the Galileo Muesum, the Mercato Centrale (wife’s absolute favorite!), and enjoying lunch in some of the small cafes. The Mercato Centrale consisted of a covered market on the bottom story, open most days during the moring, and then an upper, enclosed floor that had food vendors, a bar, and other specialty shops.

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The “steak for two” special. We did eat it all.

The most memorable was our Florentine “steak for two” at a cafe near the Duomo. The special on the sign said 1 kg, but I didn’t realize it would be a single giant steak!

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Cappuccino!

I also probably had like 17 cappuccinos over the course of a few days. I went from having never ordered one in my life to being completely addicted.

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Florence city center at sunset, viewed from the lounge terrace

Our entire stay in Florence was incredibly memorable. The city is full of art, history, and culture. Even after three days of museums, churches, and other sights (using our Firenze Cards), Kels and I both felt like we had barely scratched the surface of what the city had to offer.

If you ever have the wonderful opportunity to visit the birthplace of the Renaissance, I would highly recommend both the Hilton Florence Metropole, and a stay of at least 5 nights, if not a week.

Hotel Joli: A Review

Location: San Marino, San Marino

Overall Rating: 5/10

My wife and I spent three nights in the tiny country of San Marino during our European adventure this past summer. There were no chain hotel options, and we were out of points on our Arrival cards, so it was one of the few places that we had to pay cash. After reviewing a few options, I booked a deluxe room at the Hotel Joli through Expedia for $299, including taxes.

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San Marino is VERY picturesque

As an aside, San Marino is a gem of a county. Now I want to go back and look through my photos. Our time there was perfect. Three nights and two full days are enough to see pretty much everything.

My wife and I arrived in San Marino by bus from Rimini, Italy. The bus runs roughly every 90 minutes from the train station and the ride is about an hour. You can get tickets at the information building, but not the kiosk that says ‘Bus Tickets’. The actual stop is down the street past Burger King.

The bus driver directed us up the street to the Hotel Joli. And by ‘up the street’, I don’t mean up the block. I mean ‘head in the steeply uphill direction’.  The Città di San Marino is build on Monte Titano, and the streets are often steep and have hairpin switchbacks.

Before we started the climb, however, another passenger alerted us to an elevator. With all our luggage, this sounded like a much better option. We met two other travelers from Argentina (I thought we were far from home!) who were also headed to the same hotel.

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Entrance to Hotel Joli

The Hotel Joli ended up being an 8 minute walk from the bus stop, even with the elevator ride. It is outside the old city wall, but very close to the oldest part of San Marino.

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We arrived! Sitting in the lobby waiting for our turn to check in

The lobby is small. There were two receptionists present when we arrived, but only one was really helping people. Because the two ladies checked in before us, I realized that she was fluent in Spanish, not to mention English, Italian, and French, as I would later find out. Europeans put us Americans to shame when it comes to languages.

Check in took a little while, but we didn’t mind. We had given ourselves all day to get to San Marino, and our schedule was relaxed. We were given the key to our room (a physical key) attached to a key card that would allow the lights and air conditioning to function.

The room was on the third (top) floor, and the elevator was being worked on when we arrived, so we had to take the stairs. It was a climb, but not unmanageable.

joli_bed

How flat are the pillows?

The room itself was small. I had expected something a bit bigger, considering it was billed as a deluxe room. The bed was spartan, with flat pillows. The mattress was extra firm, and we didn’t sleep especially well.

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Small, but nice desk

At least it had a desk, and the other usuals, but there wasn’t really anything special about the room. Housekeeping kept it nicely clean, though, and stocked.

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Private outdoor terrace area

The deluxe parts really just turned out to be the private outdoor area and the updated (but small) bathroom.

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Bathroom

I was very happy that the room had a shower rather than a tub.

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Sink

Overall, it was simply satisfactory. Nothing impressed.

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Main view from our terrace

The only real disappointment was the view. I had expected the room to face away from the hillside. You could look out over Tuscany if you went to the edge of the outdoor area and looked to the right, but it kinda invaded on the privacy of the people in the next room.

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Terrace open to all guests

There was also an outdoor terrace on our floor for all guests to use.

Breakfast was included, and it also wasn’t anything special. There were some croissants, tarts, rolls, yogurt, and a few other options. I usually feel awkward taking food pictures with people around, so you don’t get any. Sorry. Maybe I’ll get over that someday.

Overall, breakfast was more European than American, and that was entirely expected. The only complaint was the coffee. It was from an automatic machine and downright awful.

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Messaging family from the lobby

The wifi had some intermittent issues during our stay. The signal wasn’t especially good in our room. My laptop managed it fine, but it was still slow. Our phones struggled. A few times it cut out completely.

But we had come to enjoy San Marino, and this wasn’t one of the places I had planned to work. So we were fine. We headed down to the lobby when we really needed to send some messages or surf the internet for a while (pictured).

The location was good. The San Francesco gate was less than a 5 minute walk, and everything in old San Marino is walkable. You really couldn’t beat the location, except for a couple hotels located within the old city itself.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the Hotel Joli. It was a deal at less than $100 per night after taxes, but I would have happily paid more for a bit nicer room. If we returned, I would look at the Hotel Cesare or Hotel Titano, both of which are within the old city.

Park Hyatt Milan: A Review

Location: Milan, Italy

Overall Rating: 10/10

Quick summary: Very luxurious, spacious, modern room with a large and lavish bathroom. The location in Milan is unbeatable.

After having a fantastic stay at the Hyatt Palais de la Méditerranée just a few days prior, I was really looking forward to our single night at the Park Hyatt Milan during our trip to Europe this past summer. We used the last of our 4 Hyatt free night certificates for the stay and paid a mere $11 in taxes. The going rate? Over €500 for a standard room.

Park Hyatt Milan Exterior

The Park Hyatt Milan as approached from the Galleria

My wife and I arrived in Milan by train and took the yellow line metro from Milano Centrale to the Duomo stop. From there it is a very short walk to the Park Hyatt.

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Inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, literally next to the Park Hyatt

The exterior of the hotel is attractive, but not overstated. You could easily walk right by it, especially with the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele right next to it. The main entrance is on the north side. We were greeted warmly by the doorman who took our luggage and ushered us to the check-in desk.

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Atrium

The lobby and atrium restaurant were impressive. I knew that without Hyatt Diamond status, though, we would not be spending any real time in either. Price for breakfast? Don’t ask. It was ridiculous.

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Atrium restaurant

The front desk clerk was very kind, and graciously gave us two complimentary vouchers for a free glass of champagne at the bar. I politely accepted, even though I knew we wouldn’t be visiting.

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From desk, from near the front entry

I was surprised to only see two check-in desks. The Park Hyatt only has 106 rooms, however, so maybe this is fairly typical for the size of the hotel.

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Third floor hallway

After check-in we were personally escorted to our room by one of the staff. Similar treatment during our previous stay at the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes had broken the ice for us, but it still felt new and a little odd.

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About to enter our room

We were in room 304. The room numbers are literally engraved into the stone alongside the door. As with virtually every other hotel at which we stayed while in Europe, this one required a key card for the lights and climate control to operate.

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Our beautiful standard room

The room itself was spectacular. I had been impressed by the Hyatt in Nice, but the Park Hyatt Milan took things to an entirely new level. I found that I overwhelmingly prefer this modern luxury style over the more ornate style of older hotels. The room was plenty spacious at over 400 square feet, and had a nice desk and sitting area.

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The heavenly bed

The bed was heavenly. There are few hotel beds that have been as comfortable as either this one or the one at the Hyatt in Nice. We had a good rest after our long day on the train.

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Desk

Unlike the Hyatt in Nice, the Park Hyatt actually had good in-room coffee. It was Illy brand, and actually the best in-room coffee I have ever had.

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Our interior view

We could only book a standard room with the free night certificate, and this is what we got. With only Hyatt Platinum status (courtesy of the Chase card), I didn’t expect an upgrade, and we didn’t receive one. Thus, we got an interior facing room with a view of the atrium. But I honestly didn’t care. The standard room was fantastic, and we were only here for one night.

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The luxurious bathroom

The bathroom was most impressive, and hands-down the most luxurious I have ever used.

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Amazing shower and tub

The tub and shower were both extremely nice, tiled with stone all around. Showering in the morning is an enjoyment to me, rather than a chore, and the deluge of water that the Park Hyatt shower can output is ridiculous. It was like a mini waterfall. I must have spent close to 20 minutes basking under it.

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Bathroom sink

I am not prone to taking hotel toiletries, but I may have taken a couple bottles of shampoo from the stash. There was an entire set in the shower, another next to the bath, and a third next to the sink.

It took us a little time to find the minibar, which is located underneath the sink in the bathroom. The space available for personal items is extremely minimal.

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Complimentary water and chocolate

The Park Hyatt provided us with two bottles of water and a small box of chocolates. There were additional bottles and other refreshments in the minibar, but I didn’t feel like paying €10 each.

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Duomo di Milano

After relaxing in our room for a while, my wife and I decided to head out and find some food. Both the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the Duomo di Milano are just steps from the hotel. The cathedral is exquisite. We spent a little a little over an hour wandering around.

Park Hyatt Milan Chocolates

Chocolate as part of the “turndown service”

Later, after returning to the hotel, we were offered turndown service by housekeeping. I still don’t understand the desire to have someone come in and “prepare the bed for sleeping” for you. Apparently it’s the fancy thing to do. What we did accept was the box of chocolates offered as part of the service.

The next morning we headed out to quickly visit the terraces of the Duomo di Milano. Not only did we get up close and personal with the architecture, but we had great views of the rooftops of the city.

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The views of Milan from the Duomo are unbeatable

Returning to the Park Hyatt, it was sadly time to leave. But not before I had a final cup of Illy coffee.

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We enjoyed our stay immensely, and I would be eager to stay here again should we ever return to Milan and have either the points or certificates to burn on a fancy stay like this.

Park Hyatt Milan - Tomasso Grossi

Can’t wait to return to this hotel along Tomasso Grossi!

I can’t think of a single critical thing to say about the Park Hyatt Milan. It truly was superb, and the first 10 out of 10 rating I have given any hotel reviewed. Even without Hyatt Diamond status, it was an fantastic treat. All for $11.

Intercontinental Carlton Cannes: A Review

Location: Cannes, France

Overall Rating: 9/10

Located at an enviable location along the boulevard La Croisette in the heart of Cannes, the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes is one of the most iconic hotels in the world. During the Cannes Film Festival it is the most prestigious place to stay. It was also the primary location in the classic Cary Grant film, To Catch A Thief.

After I settled on Nice as the starting point of our trip this past summer, I simply couldn’t resist using our IHG free night certificates at the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes. Heading to Cannes wasn’t initially on the itinerary, but the amazing award redemption was simply too good to pass up. Instead of staying in Nice for 5 nights, I figured we would split our time between Nice and Cannes, spending 3 nights in each city and reducing our time in Italy by one night to compensate. Rates were over €380 the nights we were there, so it was a fantastic use of the $49 annual “free night” certificates, plus 60,000 points for the third night.

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Entry walk

We arrived in Cannes by train and then took a local bus that dropped us just steps from the hotel. A €1 bus ride certainly beats a taxi or Uber. The entryway to the Carlton is gorgeous. While the Hyatt Regency in Nice where we had just stayed has an upscale elegance that is not overstated, the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes is far more decorative and grand.

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Logo at the entrance

I instantly knew we were at a top notch hotel. The service was impeccable. The doorman was extremely friendly, and insisted on taking my luggage. I generally protest as I feel my wife and I are more than capable of handling what we pack. Plus, we don’t tend to stay at places like the Carlton, so it still feels rather odd to let someone bring our luggage to our room.

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Lobby from foot of main stair

The front desk is to the left as you enter the lobby from outside, and the concierge desk is opposite. The lobby itself is beautiful and imposing. Check-in went quickly for us, and we were told that we had been given an upgrade to a larger room. Technically, this is not something that IHG hotels are obliged to do for award stays for elite members, but I have found that some do nonetheless. I appreciate the gesture.

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Hall

The lady at the front desk proceeded to walk us to our room, which was the first time we had ever experienced this. I found it awkward, but I can assume that it is simply par for the course at a hotel of this caliber.

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Stair that heads down to the restaurant

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Panorama as you walk into the room

The room itself was spacious and every bit as nice as I expected. It was furnished with a desk, a sitting area of two chairs and small table, and a king bed with nightstands, all of very nice quality.

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Comfortable king bed

The window could open slightly and overlooked the side street. If we had been here during the off season, I may have tried my luck at requesting an upgrade to a sea-view room. But in the height of summer, I doubted we would have much of a chance. Plus, I always hate asking.

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Sitting area by the window

There were two bottles of water provided when we arrived, and again each day during our stay. This was a staple at all the upscale hotels we stayed at during the trip, and it was very much appreciated. My wife and I both struggled to stay well hydrated in the heat.

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Room panorama from the interior corner

The desk wasn’t especially comfortable for working, mainly due to the chair. Luckily, I didn’t need to clock more than just a couple hours during our stay. Other than that, it was nice enough.

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Desk. It wasn’t overly comfortable to work from.

The bathroom was reasonably sized and very, very nice. It featured a shower/tub, double sinks, and a separate area with a toilet and a bidet. And again, there was a phone in the toilet room.

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Bathroom

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Double sinks

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Shower/tub

One thing we didn’t do was eat breakfast at the hotel. It is a bit of a bummer that even at the highest status level (which we received as a fluke last year), IHG Rewards Club members do not get free breakfast. This is a staple perk of nearly every other well-known hotel loyalty program, including Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt. Lack of free breakfast at any status level is one of the biggest shortcomings of IHG. There was no way that we were going to pay €34 per person for breakfast!

carlton_cooking

Our hot plate has become a travel necessity.

This meant we cooked in our hotel room the whole time. We do this a lot anyway since my wife has a sensitive stomach and cooking for ourselves is preferred. Plus, we’re pretty cheap. The markets in Cannes were within easy walking distance, so we were able to get fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables quite easily.

carlton_entry_1

Front of the Carlton

Although we very much enjoyed our room, my wife and I spent the bulk of our time out and about. Cannes is lovely. We enjoyed exploring the Lerins Islands both, and I even jumped in the Med for a brief swim while on Ile Sant Honorat.

carlton_lerins

View between the Lerins Islands, from Ile Saint Honorat

Our other enjoyments were spending time at the Marché Gambetta, the open air market near the train station, and seeing the Musée de la Castre, which provides unbeatable views of Cannes and the Lerins Islands. We also walked Rue Meynadier which is one of the main commercial areas and has a great collection of small shops.

cannes-view

Panorama of Cannes from the Musée de la Castre

Overall, we loved our time at the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes. The hotel is iconic, and the service excellent. It was a memorable experience, and I loved that we got great value from our IHG certificates. The hotel is certainly above our typical travel standards, but this is what award travel is for!

carlton_wife

Leaving!

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